Planning for Blake’s London!

Related Posts: Planning for London!


Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

As you may know, for the past couple months, I’ve been busy planning for my trip to Cannes and London. I’ll only have 3 full days in London, so I’m trying to figure out the best schedule that will allow me to fit everything in. For my British followers/readers, any advice would be incredibly appreciated.


  1. Arrive: Hello London!!!
  2. Take public transportation from Heathrow to hotel; check into hotel and get situated.
  3. Since I’ll be exhausted from the film festival (and if I don’t get in too late), I think I might take a bus tour of London. That way, I  can relax and cover all the basics in a short amount of time and hopefully won’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything. If I don’t have time to do a bus tour Monday, then I’ll do one Tuesday morning/afternoon and maybe do a Jack the Ripper tour instead.

Tuesday: Special Event Day!

  1. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll spend a good chunk of this day yet. Like I said, I might take a bus tour of London. Or perhaps check out the London Eye, Covent Garden, Sherlock Holmes Museum, Royal Botanic Gardens, etc. on my own. I have to look into the different types of bus tours and schedules!
  2. Leave some time to relax and possibly nap in the late afternoon.
  3. Special Event: G. E. Gallas Invited to Speak to The Blake Society!

Wednesday: Museums Galore!

  1.  ★Tate: I recently contacted the Tate about their William Blake collection and was absolutely delighted to hear that the renovated Blake rooms are scheduled to open May 14th and will very likely include The Ghost of a Flea — talk about perfect timing!
  2. British Museum: I would like to visit the British Museum’s Print Room (Department of Prints and Drawings), where one can access Blake works without an appointment. According to the Chair of the Blake Society, Tim Heath: “…you are able to hold in your own hands some of Blake’s original (and now priceless) illuminated books. It is one of the secrets of the city.”
  3. Victoria & Albert Museum: According to Naomi, the V&A has “…four of Blake’s ‘fresco’ paintings on display permanently, as well as a good collection of watercolours which you can see in their Print Room (no appointment needed).” Would also love to see upcoming exhibit called  David Bowie is (March – July)!!

Thursday: Blake’s London!

Thursday, I plan on adventuring through London to visit all the Blake historical sites. Naomi recommended this tremendously helpful resource on the Tate’s website:

I need to figure out the easiest way to walk and which sites I would most like to see (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning “I absolutely must see this!”).

  1. 28 Broad Street: (7) Where Blake was born. Original building no longer survives. Tate: “Old houses that survive… give a good idea of what Blake’s house looked like.” 
  2. St. James’s Church: (10) Recommended by Tim. Where Blake was baptized. The font still survives.
  3. Mr. Pars’ Drawing School in the Strand: (5) Where Blake was sent to study at age 10. Demolished in Regency times.
  4. 31 Queen Street, Lincoln’s Inn: (8) Where Blake at age 14 became apprentice to an engraver. Original building demolished in late 19th century. Tate: “…but the next-door houses (of brick rather than stone) give an idea of its original appearance).
  5. Westminster Abbey: (10) Where Blake as an apprentice practiced drawing ancient tombs (such as King Edward I) and monuments. Monument to William Blake in the Abbey’s Poet’s Corner.
  6. Royal Society of Arts: (5) Where Blake admired James Barry’s murals The Progress of Human Knowledge and Culture. Original building.
  7. Royal Academy, New Somerset House: (9) Where Blake studied and exhibited his work on several occasions. Also important location for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, if I’m not mistaken. Original building.
  8. Green Street, Leicester Square: (5) Where Blake moved after his marriage. Original building no longer exists.
  9. 28 Poland Street: (6) Where Blake moved after dissolving his partnership with James Parker. House rebuilt in the late 19th century.
  10. 13 Hercules Buildings: (7) Where Blake lived during his most productive years and produced the Songs of Experience. House demolished in 1918.
  11. 17 South Moulton Street: (10) Where Blake “…suffer[ed] his bitterest disappointments. Fame and financial success continued to elude him, and he sank into poverty and paranoia.” Will be here on Tuesday!
  12. Fountain Court, Strand: (7) Where Blake lived until his death and produced his illustration to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Original building no longer exists.
  13. St. Mary’s, Battersea: (10) Recommended by Tim. Where Blake married Kate. Original building.
  14. Bunhill Fields: (9) Recommended by Tim. Where Blake is buried (in an unmarked grave). Tate: “A small monument now stands at the approximate site where Blake was buried.”
  15. Paolozzi Newton: (6) Where a statue based on Blake’s Newton stands.


  • Depart: Back to San Francisco!

Now that I’ve laid everything out, the next step is to narrow everything down into a manageable plan!


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Copyright 2013 by G. E. Gallas


About gegallas

G. E. Gallas is a writer and illustrator best known for her graphic novel The Poet and the Flea about William Blake and her short film Death Is No Bad Friend about Robert Louis Stevenson. Originally from Washington, D. C., she spent her year abroad in Tokyo, Japan and graduated from New York University: Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a major involving cross-cultural storytelling. Last year, she attended the Cannes International Film Festival and spoke upon invitation to The Blake Society, London. This year, her illustrations were featured in Scared Stiff: Everything You Need To Know About 50 Famous Phobias. She is currently working on illustrations for Do More Good. Better. View all posts by gegallas

30 responses to “Planning for Blake’s London!

  • shiotadesu

    Oh sounds like so much fun, Jack the ripper tour sounds very interesting I had no idea there was one! I can’t wait to hear all about it.

    • gegallas

      I’ve always heard of Jack The Ripper tours, but I don’t know much about them. I’m definitely planning on detailing my trip in a series of blog posts, so stay tuned! Best, G. E.

  • 14mayvenus

    Coming from London I would suggest the opposite of what you are doing – because that’s how the Japanese do it!

    So, on Monday day one do half the Blake tour. The next day you’ll feel more akin to Blake himself!

    And on Tuesday, day two, before the special event, see a couple of the museums that you really love. In that time you might think of a couple of emphatic points to say about Blake for your presentation.

    On Wednesday, do the last museum and in the afternoon do the bus tour and afternoon tea!

    Then on Thursday, day four, finish the Blake tour and do the Jack the Ripper tour.

    The mind boggles!! What’s best is to do is doing what feels right on each day. I’m the worst for hatching detailed plans then end up doing something completely different – basically what you feel you have the motivation to do that morning. PS the V&A museum of vast … check with the info desk to locate the Blake paintings.

    • gegallas

      Wow, thank you so much for all your advice! You definitely gave me some good ideas. I’m still not sure how much time I’ll have on Monday, so I might end up shifting some other stuff around. And I’m definitely planning on pestering the info desks at all the museums, ha ha ha. Best, G. E.

  • Mr. Wapojif

    I lived in London for three years. Great fun to visit, a nightmare to live in. Have a super wicked thyme!

  • revessurpapier

    Congrats on being asked to speak to the Blake Society – that’s awesome! Sadly I will be on a train somewhere between Cornwall and London then, otherwise I’d have loved to attend. 😦

    Re your planned itinerary, I’m in complete agreement with the above comment. Don’t try to do Tate Britain, the BM and the V&A in a single day – you’ll spend a lot of time running around and won’t be able to really appreciate the Blakes, which would be such a shame. My suggestion would be to do Tate + V&A on one day (they’re not too far apart so you’ll spend less time in transit) and the BM another day.

    A couple of nice places for tea/lunch near the BM (both of which are in bookshops):

    Tea and Tattle

    The London Review Cake Shop

    And for the Blake tour, I’d say the Paolozzi Newton sculpture is skippable, as it’s a. somewhat out of the way and b. this is personal, but it’s always annoyed me how Paolozzi misunderstood/misinterpreted Blake’s Newton: he looked monumental and heroic. Bunhill Fields, on the other hand, is a must (even if it’s also slightly out of the way of the majority of the tour sites).

    Have a fab trip and if you have any other London questions, drop me a line!

    • gegallas

      Thank you so much for all your advice!!

      See, I don’t really know how everything is located in relation to each other, so you’ve been very helpful. Perhaps I’ll move the BM to Tuesday and just do Tate/V&A on Wednesday (and perhaps Jack the Ripper on Wednesday if I’m not dead already).

      And thanks for your tea/lunch recommendations — that’s something I’ve been meaning to look into, but had no idea where to start and really didn’t want to get stuck at overly touristy things. 🙂 I’ve heard great things about Indian food in London, but do you have any advice for me as far as pubs and that sort of thing?

      Interesting about the Paolozzi Newton sculpture — now I feel I can definitely skip it, ha ha ha. And, yes, I absolutely want to go to Bunhill Fields.

      All the best,

      G. E.

      • revessurpapier

        For pubs – I second the recommendations of the Coach and Horses and French House, although they both tend to be very crowded and noisy… that said, you’ll rub shoulders with some genuine Soho eccentrics! For something quieter, I can recommend the Seven Stars (behind the Royal Courts of Justice, so near some of the Blake sites around the Strand/Fleet Street) or the Angel in St Giles High Street (a bit of a no-man’s-land between Covent Garden and Bloomsbury that’s central yet tourist-free). If you want to try a pub near the V&A, the Queen’s Arms is really nice. As a general rule of thumb, give any pub on a major road and/or within sight of a major tourist attraction a wide berth and you should be fine!

      • gegallas

        Thanks for the additional advice! So very helpful! 😀 Best, G. E.

  • Ship's Cook

    For the Blake trip I’d suggest either starting at Bunhill fields (there are some other interesting folk buried there including John Bunyan, Danel
    Defoe and Thomas Newcommen, I used to work near there in the big Royal Mail building on the corner with Old street) and and working west or starting at St Mary’s and working east. Best to check the opening times but my preference would be to start at St Mary’s.
    Another option would be to visit Bunhill Fields before your Ripper tour as you can catch the Circle Line from Moorgate tube station to Tower hill where the Ripper tours (which believe it or not as a Londoner I have never done) depart from. it’s only four stops but make sure you are on a Circle Line train and not the Hammersmith and City or Metropolitan Lines trains that depart from the same platform)
    Sad to say I don’t know the Paolizzi sculpture, but I will now have to find it!
    With regard to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Although they are lovely they are on the outskirts of London at Kew so a visit there would require a tube journey of about 45 minutes each way from Central London. St James’ Park is in Central London and has some lovely water fowl if you just want a walk.
    Pubs well my favourite boozer is the Coach and Horses in Soho’s Greek street, very shabby place, not to everyone’s taste, but does great veggie food, otherwise I’d recommend the French House in Dean Street (both of these are featured on my blog) which has an interesting history. the Sherlock Holmes down by Charing Cross station has some nice Holmes bits and pieces on display The Newman Arms in Rathbone Street does fantastic pies and was featured in Michael Powell’s move Peeping tom.
    We are very spoilt for curry houses in London, but with so many good local Indian restaurants I havn’t really tried many in town, Imli in Wardour street isn’t bad, otherwise I highly recommend Wahaca for Mexican and the Gay Hussar has fabulous Hungarian food and a very interesting past ably illustrated by the very many political cartoons on its walls

    • gegallas

      Opps, I almost missed you comment!

      Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to give me such detailed advice — it’s extremely appreciated!!!

      It all sounds really cool — have to look into everything more. I’m putting together a second “Planning for Blake’s London” post so that I can merge everyone’s advice together. 😀


      G. E.

  • Pauline Coddington

    You might enjoy the William Morris museum if you have time to visit.

  • Between the shadows

    For 3 days you could see a lot …
    I spent 5 days in London and my program was- going out at 8am, coming back to the hotel in 10pm, all day walking around to see as much as possible. I did spend a whole day in Hampton court, because this was the main reason I went to London. I dedicated half a day to the area of Tower of London and the Parliament with Big Ben, the rest it was all quick visits!
    Enjoy your time. You will love London, it’s such an amazing place and so much to see.

  • petedavies66

    Don’t take a tourist tour of London, get on a number 9 routemaster (old style bus) as it does a fantastic route through the city and will cost you about £1.30. Don’t sit upstairs at the back of London buses, it’s normally where any idiots sit. No 9 bus is a proper London Transport bus, not rip-off tour bus. There are lots of tourist traps in London. Make sure you get a ‘oyster’ card the minute you get here also, you’ll pay a lot for cash tickets otherwise. Consider taking the river bus from Westminster pier to Greenwich and back, the view of London from the river is stunning. ‘Time Out’ and ‘Evening Standard’ offer the best things to do guide for the city. Enjoy.

    • gegallas

      Thank you so much for your advice! I want to avoid touristy things as much as possible, so you have been very helpful! By the way, do you have any suggestions as far as food/restaurants go? Thanks again, G. E.

      • petedavies66

        Well, to avoid McDonalds for lunch you could check out the ‘Stockpot’ if you’re after a quick home cooked lunch that’s only a little more expensive than a Big Mac and fries. They have restaurants all over the centre. Failing that Soho is full of good old Italian style cafe/coffee shops. Depends what you like really, a fantastic reasonable priced Indian Restaurant in the centre would be ‘Masala Zone’. The one near Carnaby St is great, you just walk in off the street as there’s no booking. The ‘Pizza Express’ chain is quite all right too, there’s one in Soho that has live Jazz sometimes (Dean or Wardour St?). These are non rip-off places, anywhere to eat someplace like The South Bank/Oxford Circus/Covent Garden/Piccadilly will be geared at ripping off tourists. Funnily enough, the coffee shop/restaurant on the top floor of the ‘John Lewis’ dept store on Oxford St offers great views, as does the restaurant on the top floor of ‘Waterstones’ book shop on Piccadilly. You should also check out the historic ‘Foyles’ book store on Charing Cross Rd.

        Another cool thing to do is get off at London Bridge tube, cross over the street in to the Borough Market, pick up a filled Baguette there, and walk down to Clink St and along the South Bank to Big Bent. Great views and off the Piccadilly tourist trail…

  • Daltonsart

    Hope you enjoy London when you arrive!! good walking shoes and oyster card at the ready!! 🙂

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